I don’t understand why Time couldn’t manage to say it, but the Financial Times gets it right. This was George W. Bush’s year. Slowly building toward ridding the world of Saddam’s threat, shrewdly identifying North Korea, Iran and Iraq as an axis of evil, demanding democracy from the Palestinians, presiding over modest economic growth despite a terrible global outlook, winning an almost unprecedented vote of approval in the November elections, capping it all with a Philadelphia speech that was a watershed in the GOP’s struggle with its own internal demons – by any measure, this was a spectacular performance. The high-point? The U.N. speech. Here’s the FT:
It was a defining moment of the year, when the leader of the last remaining great power bowed to international opinion not out of obligation but out of choice. At the UN, Mr Bush displayed the combination of power and restraint that has elevated his presidency in 2002. Under his leadership, the US has acted more multilaterally, more cautiously and more wisely than many had feared after the provocation of September 11 2001.
Forget the bloviations of the Hate-America-First crowd. History will one day credit Bush with patience, multilateralism and conviction. But right now, history is still being made. And there is a war to be continued and to be won.
TOP TEN WINNERS OF 2002:
10.Steve Jobs, for the iPod alone.
9. Roger Ailes, for kicking media ass.
8. Al Gore, for finally leaving the stage.
7. Ozzie Osbourne, for showing that love makes a family.
6. The Blogosphere, for coming of age.
5. Karl Rove. You can’t take away last November.
4. Steven Pinker, for the best book of the year.
3. Eminem, for making it out of hell.
2. Condi Rice, for making it.
1. Pat Tillman, for giving up a promising and lucrative NFL career in order to serve his country.
TOP TEN LOSERS OF 2002:
10.Janet Reno. Not even the primary.
9. Madonna. You’ve got to have off-years.
8. Jennifer Lopez, for talent-free ubiquity.
7. Michael Jackson, for child abuse.
6. Bernard Cardinal Law, for child abuse.
5. Howell Raines, for wrecking a brand almost beyond repair.
4. Trent Lott, for still not getting it.
3. Tom Daschle, for running on prescription drugs in wartime.
2. Gerhard Schroder, for self-defeating opportunism.
1. Saddam. You wait.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: “The cigarette is ‘somebody to whom I go asking for solidarity and comprehension and company and friendship when I am very tired or very angry or very sad or even when I’m very happy.'” – Oriana Fallaci, in the Financial Times. Don’t miss the rest of her Paglia-esque riffs on the threat of Islamism to the West.
MAMET ON ANTI-SEMITISM: The playwright David Mamet has an excellent little piece in the current Forward, about his recent trip to Israel. He’s tough on himself, for his absence when Israel is under such pressure. But he’s also got a typically good eye:
Before my trip, I was strolling through Newton. There, before me, was a broken-down Volvo of old, the vehicle of my brethren, the congenitally liberal. It was festooned, as are its kind, with every sort of correct exhortation: “Save James Bay,” “Honor Diversity” and so on. A most interesting bumper sticker read: “Israel Out of the Settlements.” Now this is a legitimate expression of free speech. Israel has been involved, as we know, in a rather protracted real estate dispute with several hundred million of its neighbors. This legitimate political expression, however, had all its “S”s transformed into dollar signs. Here we have, one would have supposed, a civilized person (one would assume that one could reason with the owner of a Volvo) sporting a slogan which could best be translated as “Hook-nosed Jews Die.”
Ah, yes. But the Volvo owner has accurately imbibed one of the potions now keeping the dying far left alive.
MORE EVIL: Alongside North Korea, one of the remaining truly evil regimes in the world today is the military cabal still holding the beautiful country and gentle people of Burma hostage. Here’s a story that should have garnered more attention: mass rape as an instrument of terror against the ethnic minorities in that country’s border areas. These thugs are genocidal.
SONTAG AWARD NOMINEE: “Villain of 2002: George Bush. This illiterate buffoon cheated his way into the White House with the help of his well-connected family and friends. Having dismally failed to anticipate or prevent the atrocity of September 11, he spent the rest of the day zigzagging around the country like a jet-propelled chicken. His personal cowardice was mirrored in the country at large, and he fanned it to his advantage in the mid-term elections, and now, to foment an unprovoked war that has nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with oil. His record on the environment is as appalling as you would expect. Bush is rightly despised throughout the world, and it is humiliating that Britain is seen as his only ally.” – Scientist Richard Dawkins, spewing what has now become the conventional wisdom among Europe’s decadent and ignorant liberal elites.
COMING SOON: The Dish will announce the 2002 winners of the annual Sontag, Von Hoffman, Begala, and Derbyshire Awards.